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Dallas Cowboys Running Back For 2023: Will It Be Tony Pollard or Ezekiel Elliott?

Adam Thompson for Bookies.com

Adam Thompson  | 4 mins

Dallas Cowboys Running Back For 2023: Will It Be Tony Pollard or Ezekiel Elliott?
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The Dallas Cowboys ranked ninth in the NFL in rushing yards in 2022 and third in rushing touchdowns. But now there are key decisions to be made as to the direction the team wants to go concerning its offensive backfield. 

Tony Pollard, named to his first Pro Bowl this year, is a free agent but eligible for the franchise tag. Ezekiel Elliott remains under contract, but at a huge salary cap cost. Keeping both isn’t out of the question, but it would be costly to do so. 


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Judging from social media chatter, the majority of Cowboys fans, and most NFL pundits, believe the Dallas offense would be better served going with Pollard as the lead back for 2023. But the man who makes the personnel decisions, owner Jerry Jones, has consistently praised the work of Elliott. 

Which direction will the Cowboys go for 2023? Bookies.com oddsmaker Adam Thompson has used his resources of NFL betting contacts developed over 20 years covering the league to create his hypothetical NFL futures odds on the Cowboys’ running back room for next season. 

Cowboys Starting RB Week 1 Odds

PlayerOddsImplied Probability
Tony Pollard-20066.7%
Ezekiel Elliott+13043.4%
The Field+10009.1%

Odds are for entertainment purposes only and do not reflect odds that may be available on legal betting apps.

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Cowboys Running Back Room Week 1 Odds

PlayerOddsImplied Probability
Pollard Only-10551.2%
Pollard & Elliott+12544.4%
Elliott Only+47517.4%
Neither+90010.0%

Odds are for entertainment purposes only and do not reflect odds that may be available on legal betting apps.

Pollard rushed for 1,007 yards and nine TDs while gaining 5.2 yards per carry in 2022. He was named to his first Pro Bowl – despite starting only four games. 

Pollard’s 5.2 career yards per carry average is elite and he has 39 receptions in each of the last two seasons. Elliott, meanwhile, rushed for 876 yards and 12 TDs but on just 3.8 yards per carry, and he had just 17 receptions. Elliott’s better days appear to be in the rear-view mirror, while the fourth-year Pollard may just be getting into his prime. 

Pollard fractured his fibula in Dallas’ playoff loss to San Francisco. He is expected to be ready for training camp, regardless of the team he’s signed to play for. 

Dallas can utilize the franchise tag on Pollard at a cost of $10.1 million. Elliott has four more years left on his contract and will cost $16.7 million against the cap in 2023, second only to the Packers’ Aaron Jones ($20 million) at the running back position. If the Cowboys drop him, it costs the team nearly $12 million in dead cap space. The contract makes Elliott likely un-tradeable. 


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By franchising Pollard, the Cowboys can buy time to work with the RB on a longer-term deal. But in a modern NFL that dictates “don’t overpay for running backs,” the team would likely prefer not to use nearly $30 million of its cap space on backs. 

Or would they? Jones has shown loyalty to Elliott, whose role has diminished since he signed his mega-extension. Elliott has shown a willingness to restructure his contract, raising the possibility that both RBs remain in Big D. 

For what it's worth, legendary Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith wants Dallas to find a way to bring back both: "I’m keeping both," Smith told PFT. "I may franchise tag Pollard and I may go for a contract restructure with Zeke."

"But I’m keeping both, and the reason why is because we’ve got to get Pollard back healthy, and we need Zeke, and we need Malik [Davis] as well. We need that three-headed monster right now to rotate. Malik gives us a chance to get Pollard time to get back healthy again.”

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About the Author

Adam Thompson for Bookies.com
Adam Thompson
NFL writer and expert Adam Thompson joined Bookies.com in 2019 after a successful run as senior handicapper for SportsLine and CBSSports.com. He's long been estabilshed as one of the nation's premier NFL and MLB handicappers, and his horse racing and PGA picks have produced major winners over the last 12 months.
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